Our Family Dreams by Daniel Blake Smith
The Fletchers' Adventures in Nineteenth Century America

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...he also turned to public life, taking strong and vocal positions on the abolition of slavery, intemperance, and school reform, all major issues of the day. Incomparable sources make for an unusually intimate American portrait.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In the early years after the Revolution, Americans were on the move, seeking to establish a new way of life. And, more than the church or the school or the courthouse, it was the family that nurtured the American Dream.

In this novel-like narrative, Daniel Blake Smith vividly brings to life the Fletchers, a family of loving, ambitious, at times insecure pioneers who scattered across the vast expanse of post-revolutionary America but kept in touch through letters despite their wildly different life paths. On a hard scrabble farm in Vermont, the patriarch, Jesse Fletcher, struggled with debt and depression but managed to educate his children, especially his son Elijah, a Yankee who moved to Virginia, shocked by the horrors of slavery but then seduced by the plantation lifestyle. Another son, Calvin, left at age 17 for Indianapolis to become a self-made lawyer, banker, and a prominent citizen and passionate abolitionist. The grandchildren include Indiana, a women's education activist who donated her home to create Sweet Briar College; black sheep Lucian, who went to California to join in the gold rush; and physician Billy captured as a spy during the Civil War.

Through letters and diaries, we find in Our Family Dreams that the Fletchers appear surprisingly similar to us; they dream, fret, fight, and love. Despite numerous heartaches and setbacks, their spirit of enterprise, sacrifice, mobility, and education endures as American values to this day.

 

About Daniel Blake Smith

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Daniel Blake Smith is the author of An American Betrayal, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.
 
Published August 2, 2016 by St. Martin's Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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on May 04 2016

...he also turned to public life, taking strong and vocal positions on the abolition of slavery, intemperance, and school reform, all major issues of the day. Incomparable sources make for an unusually intimate American portrait.

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